Trying to extract some life lessons from 366 pages of madness.
Robert Sylvester Kelly has written a book, everyone.
The creator of everyone’s favourite hip-hopera, oft-topless legend of 90s R&B and retired Star Wars-themed stripper (more on that later) invites you to take a trip to the theme park that is R. Kelly’s past. GIT ON THE SOULACOASTER, y’all.
Actually, here is the thing: you might not want to “git on the soulacoaster”, because Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me is 366 pages long. Which is too long. That is double the length of The Great Gatsby (and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kelly ain’t).
Because I love you, I have put together a summary of the ten most important things I’ve learned from this book so you can save yourself £17.49 plus shipping and handling from America. Shall we?
1. R. KELLY LOVES METAPHORS
In case the pun/overarching metaphor of the title is too confusing, Kelly explains it in the very first lines of the book: “Since the day of my birth, I feel like my soul has been on some kind of rollercoaster – with all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, laughing and screaming, smiling and crying. Sometimes I ask myself, When will this ride stop? Or will it ever stop?”
His song “You Remind Me of Something” got a lot of criticism for its comparison of women to cars and other objects. In response, Kelly writes: “The song is a compliment to women, not an insult. We fellas love our jeeps.”
2. R. KELLY LOVES MCDONALD'S
And if you're a super-fan and want to notch up a “celebrity sighting” of R. Kelly in one of his jeeps, head to your nearest McDonald’s. He likes to go there:
a) After walking off late-night talk shows: “On the monitor, the announcer was saying, ‘Up Next, R. Kelly!' No. R. Kelly was not up next. R. Kelly was outta there. R. Kelly was leaving, getting in his car and going to McDonald’s.”
b) After the Best of Both Worlds tour with Jay-Z went to shit: “I became so frustrated that I left the stage during a show in St. Louis and went to the place that gives me comfort in times of trouble – McDonald’s. But this time, I didn’t go to eat. Instead I asked the guy working the drive thru window if I could borrow his cap and uniform, and for the next three hours, I served Big Macs, fries and Cokes to customers.”
c) After being found not guilty on 12 counts of sexy pee-time with a minor: “'Where do you want to go now?' my crew asked. 'McDonald’s,' I said. 'I’ve gotta get a double cheeseburger and fries.'"
3. R. KELLY HAS PROPHETIC DREAMS
“When I was about nine years old, I had a strange dream. I was in a house where everything was white – walls, floors, ceiling, carpet, bricks on the fireplace, curtains at the windows. I saw myself seated at a white piano and playing a song.”
The song he’s playing in the John Lennon “Imagine” video/dream is interrupted by someone knocking on the door and giggling, then running away. When Kells finally catches them, it’s a bunch of cartoon characters. “Hey! Who are you guys?” he asks. “We’re your biggest hit song,” the CHARACTERS OF THE YET-TO-BE-MADE-1996-CLASSIC SPACE JAM respond.
Years later, when he started writing “I Believe I Can Fly”, he realised it was the song from his nine-year-old dream vision. Did you know it only took him three hours to write? “Believe it or not.” Kelly doesn’t take credit though: “Because the tune first came to me as a child, I really do believe God actually wrote that song.”
4. R. KELLY HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Kells’ childhood home sounds kind of nightmarish, and also a bit like his mum was running a brothel from it. He was asked to take a lot of sexy pictures of people way older than him getting it on. Also his uncle, the defining characteristic of whom we are told is that he “always want to be lookin’ at big titties”, killed the family dog by accident and made baby Rob bury it in the back yard.
5. R. KELLY HAS A BAD ATTITUDE ABOUT WOMEN STUFF
As a teenager, he was having all kinds of sex with his then-girlfriend, Chance. One day he looked down, saw some blood and fah-reaaaked out.
“I panicked and started crying. She tried to explain something but I ran outta the room and went straight to my sister Theresa. Theresa explained how the monthly cycle works. I understood, but I also didn’t want to go back there... When It came to sex, I swore I was done, and I was. I didn’t have sex with another girl for three or four years.”
Say it with me now: pussssyyyyyyy! That’s the worst. Or so you think. The worst actually involves his then-wife Drea:
“I got to confess, though, that the night Drea went to the hospital, I didn’t go with her... Birth is God’s great miracle, and I thank Him for the gift, but the Lord and I have agreed that I’m supposed to head to the hospital after the baby is born and everyone’s all cleaned up.”
Well, if you and the Lord agreed! JK, this is dreadful. Also, guess where he hangs out while his wife is pushing out the child he implanted her with?
See section 2.
6. WHEN R. KELLY WAS EIGHT HE WATCHED HIS ALSO EIGHT-YEAR-OLD GIRLFRIEND DROWN IN A RIVER
Self-explanatory, really traumatic. RIP Lulu.
7. R. KELLY WAS SHOT AS A CHILD
When he ran into the shooter after all his success, the fucker tried to get him to listen to his demo. LOLOLOL.
8. R. KELLY IS A MASTER OF PROSE
“Sometimes I feel like music has made love to me. And sometimes I feel like music just had sex with me. I feel I am pregnant by music; and it is the father and mother of my child. And there will be no denying that. One day I was riding in the car with one of my homies, who was a drug dealer.”
The perfect segue. Seamless. Kelly and David Ritz, who is not credited anywhere except the very, very back of the book, but who one assumes was the ghost writer, spin magic with words, making events that seem unimaginable come to vivid, aching life: “Michael Jackson was real. He looked at least eight feet tall. He looked like an avatar.”
9. R. KELLY IS REALLY, REALLY AFFECTED BY THE MAGIC OF FILM
This is how R. Kelly knew his marriage was over: “I decided to go to the movies to get away from it all. I went by myself and saw a love story called The Notebook. I loved every minute of that film. It was about a man and a woman from different walks of life who made it through all kinds of obstacles… In the end, living in an old-age home, they died in each other’s arms. I burst into tears. The Notebook was beautiful.”
10. R. KELLY AND I ARE THE SAME PERSON
“I was hired to entertain at all kinds of events, including stripping at women’s bachelorette parties. I felt that whatever I did, I had to do it creatively... By listening to women most of my life [I knew] they needed to escape reality sometimes. So I’d come out as Darth Vader. I’d put on the black mask and the black robe. When I dropped the robe, I’d be wearing nothing but my little patent-leather drawers.”
This is perfect for so many reasons but mainly because I never thought I'd have a personal connection to R. Kelly on such a straightforward, real-life level:
Halloween, 2009. Really putting the sexy in “sexy Darth Vader”. Really also putting the freshman fifteen in “sexy Darth Vader”, but that is neither here nor there. I also sometimes feel “like an alien, born on a planet called Music, where there’s nothing but sound”. Also, like Kelly, I chose to leave any specific details about the youth I may or may not have peed upon completely out of my writing to the detriment of the piece. C’mon Kells, pony up the good stuff! I guess we have to wait for the 890-page sequel, The Diary of Pee.
Follow Monica on Twitter: @monicaheisey
More R. Kelly: